. . . or do children not celebrate winter anymore?
It’s the oddest damn thing to walk or drive around town — an area that I KNOW has plenty of smaller kids — and hear no shouts, see no flung snowballs, no sleds, no snowmen.
When I was a child (such comment immediately putting me well within the ranks of venerable elder ) snow was the license to all sorts of mayhem. As I struggled into snowpants and coat, heavy socks and boots, my mother would exclaim “Don’t forget your mittens!” but I often did. I was so on fire to get outside, to not waste a moment of the magic. She would wave my red mittens from the back door and I would wade through the drifts, hands wet and nearly as red as the mittens from making snowballs and snowmen unprotected, and suffer the few seconds it took to tug them on before I was off again.
There were snow angels to make, and snow men. I was delighted the year my best friend David and I decided to buck the system and make snow animals instead! How daring! There were snowball fights (David and I pitted against his elder brothers, Tommy and Bobby) and snow forts. With luck, there would be enough of a thaw during the day to freeze hard at night, forming a crust thick enough to walk on. Then the sleds came out and the wonderful silvery aluminum saucers. (My mother sprayed the underside of mine with furniture polish to give it greater slide — a terrifying degree of it, now that I look back. I’d zip down the hill totally out of control, scared in only the best possible way. Looking back, I have to wonder if she wasn’t trying to kill me, but I always managed to thwart her efforts and trudge home at the end of the day.)
What is the point of fireplaces and footie pajamas and hot chocolate without snow to balance it? And every child’s dream — school cancellation! — whereby we were all set free to rampage through an extra day of joy.
All gone, it seems. Oh, kids still love their snow days, but do they stick their noses outdoors when it happens or do they stay curled in front of some screen? Is the magic gone for these more modern (although not necessarily richer) children? Has the world banished winter’s siren song? For us, being called indoors was a crime, a punishment. We relinquished the hold of winter only if forced, coming in wet to the skin, shivering and blue-lipped, so tired we could barely walk. Warm towels and dry clothing was bliss, followed by good food and drink. Only then, when the last bit of light had leached from the winter sky, would we settle down to the television or a good book and drowse off halfway through either, our heads tipped sideways, spilling dreams of snow out onto the pillow.